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How to Take a Vacation During Your First Year of Work (And Still Get Ahead)

Your first year in a full-time position is exciting, but it can also be intimidating when it comes time to ask for time off. Here we lay out the foolproof way to take your vacation... and thrive while doing it!

During your first year at a job it’s crucial to make a positive impression. Taking vacation time may seem counterintuitive to that, though in reality vacation time for a first-year employee is entirely normal. In fact, prudent bosses are aware of studies that show vacation time can be beneficial to an employee’s long-term organization and productivity.

Still, many new workers are wary of requesting vacation time, in fear of coming across as lazy or unmotivated. What they don’t realize is that most bosses fully anticipate vacation requests and do not look down on them, just as long as the planning and delivery of the request keeps the company’s interests in mind.

So, what should a first-year employee do to smoothly request and take a vacation while still getting ahead? There are a few things to remember:

Evaluate Your Own Current Performance First

If possible, evaluate your own work performance before requesting time off. Some jobs have easier-to-read barometers than others in terms of success–specifically jobs with numerical-based results, like sales–but overall most employees are generally aware if they are currently in their boss’s good graces or not.

If your work quality speaks for itself and you’re doing a fantastic job, then there’s no better time to ask. If you’re faltering or in the midst of a slump of sorts, try to hold off until shortly after a notable achievement.

Ask as Far in Advance as Possible

You aren’t the only one at your job who wants time off, so it’s recommended to request vacation time ASAP to avoid a coworker snagging your desired dates, especially since a more experienced coworker will probably have priority.

Not only does asking well in advance increase the likelihood of you nabbing desired dates, it will also make you appear well prepared and considerate, giving your boss ample time to make necessary adjustments. You especially don’t want to make one of the biggest vacation mistakes and plan the trip before getting permission to go, so do yourself and everyone else a favor and ask early!

Inform Your Coworkers

Your boss or supervisor is the first person you should notify of a vacation request, but once it’s granted it’s also recommended to notify colleagues of the news as well.

In addition to coming across as considerate, telling your c-workers of a schedule change can increase your role in the office community. Why? It’s simple: Being open about vacation time–as opposed to hiding it–suggests that you’re a team player who is genuinely interested in the overall effectiveness of the office, as opposed to just your own work performance.

This will result in more positive office relations in the long term, in addition to potentially increased schedule flexibility, both highly beneficial perks for any first-year employee.

Prioritize Your Availability Before Departing

Especially after the vacation request is granted, it’s integral to maintain work availability and focus. It will show your boss and coworkers that you aren’t prone to simply zoning out when daydreaming about vacation. A bad work day can make this even harder, but it’s important to persevere and maintain focus to show that your mind is on helping the company, as opposed to thinking about what time your flight to Maui arrives.

A positive work-life balance is beneficial to one’s health, with flexible vacation days being one aspect that can promote this. Showing full effort both before and after vacation will show your boss that your vacations are not something that will serve as a distraction, increasing the likelihood they will provide greater flexibility in terms of vacation and consequently a better work-life balance.

Notify Clients and Set an Away Message

If your job capacity deals with clients in any way, it’s important to speak with coworkers regarding who will cover what before you depart for vacation. Similarly, you should personally inform clients of your unavailability dates, in addition to providing contact info that allows them to speak with a coworker that can answer questions or fulfill requests while you’re away.

It’s also important to set up an away message on both voicemail and email that auto-responds to any emails that you are away until a specific date. Give yourself a quick tutorial on how to set a vacation reply in Gmail. This will make first-year employees come across as reliable and thoughtful to clients, who always appreciate communication and clarity.

Leave an Extra Day to Recharge

If possible, return to work a full day after you get back from vacation, as opposed to in less than 24 hours. Plane travel, time zone shifts, and general movement can result in fatigue, which doesn’t mesh well with work productivity. To avoid looking like a zombie on your first day back – and making the prospects of future flexible vacation time unlikely as a result–take the full additional day, even if it means one less day on the beach.

The tips above will help any first-year employee properly request and respond to vacation time, while still keeping them ahead compared to peers who provide short notice, show inattentiveness, and display little regard for their boss and coworkers.

Planning, timing, and delivery are everything for a first-year employee requesting vacation time; as long as these attributes are kept in mind, your boss will likely approve the vacation with a smile. Safe travels!

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About the Author

Sarah Landrum

Sarah graduated with the highest distinction from the Smeal College of Business at Penn State, and then moved to Harrisburg, PA to pursue her career in digital marketing. She has a passion for writing and founded the blog Punched Clocks as a starting point for her freelance career. In her free time, she spends as much time as possible with her fiancé and two dogs. She loves taking walks and spending time in the great outdoors. You can usually find her reading, cooking, attempting DIY projects, and binge-watching Netflix. She hopes to one day grace the pages of The Muse and Forbes. Ultimately, it is her dream to have one of her projects become ultra-successful and help business for a client take off.